Have you ever heard the Sicilian word “mpanate“? And what about another difficult one: “nfigghiulata“?
If you are not from the south of Sicily, meaning in particular all the Ragusashire and the town of Scicli then you probably won’t understand, but these are two very similar recipes, traditional of the Easter period.
Every family prepares them either for Easter day or for Easter eve, but before diving into the actual recipe I want to explain those names.
Impanata (or simply ‘mpanata) comes from the more famous word “empanadas”, which is a very similar food from Spain.
The Spaniards in fact during the domination in Sicily who started at the beginning of the XI century brought and taught the locals how to make them.
Normally they are stuffed with meat (mostly lamb, as is the traditional Easter meat, or chicken; some versions also add plain rice mixed to the meat).
The origin of the name Nfigghiulata instead is quite uncertain. It might be an ancient Sicilian word meaning “to wrap”, referring to the dough that is wrapped around the filling, which is usually ricotta cheese mixed with sausage and salami in pieces, with the addition of grated cheese and few aromi, and this is the recipe I am gonna cook today.
In English we would probably refer to them as savoury pies, the base is what we call pasta di pane, which is a dough similar to the pizza dough but thinner and with less proving time. It is the same of the traditional scacce.
Of course the filling may vary from family to family and from town to town, as usual.
Ingredients and preparation (6 to 8 portions):
For the filling
Fresh ricotta cheese 300 gr
2 large eggs
grated caciocavallo cheese 100 gr
6 pork sausages of your choice (without the casing)
Salami of your choice *optional
Nutmeg, salt and black pepper
This Nfigghiulata is made of 2 very thin disks of dough, one for the bottom, rolled slighlty bigger and one for the top that will be the lid, a bit smaller.
To prepare the stuffing mix the ricotta with the sausage without the casing in a large bowl. Add one beaten egg, the grated cheese (caciocavallo ideally or parmesan if you can’t find the local one) and all the aromi (a pinch of salt, nutmeg and black pepper).
If you are adding salami as well, cut the slices into pieces and add them into the mix, combining all the ingredients well together.
Now it is time to create the proper pie: transfer the stuffing on the larger disk of dough, making sure you leave 1 cm from the external edge with no mix.
Place the smaller disk on top and start sealing the 2 disks with the typical “rieficu“, Sicilian word meaning the border, which is obtained by sealing the two layers with a pressure of the thumb on the index.
At this point with a knife we cut a cross right in the middle and we will turn the corners up, creating a hole that show the ricotta mix underneath.
This will help for the steam to come out. We beat the second egg, we brush the pie on top and on the sides, then we pour the remaining egg into that opening we just made.
We cook in the oven at 200 degrees for roughly 30-35 minutes. The color has to be golden brown and you can eat it either warm or cold, as this is also delicious the following day.
HAPPY EASTER EVERYBODY!
Today we do not follow the 25 foods tradition, but we most certainly prepare a good pastizzu ri ciurietti, rigourously made with organic broccoli from the one of the fantastic farmer we buy our vegetables from and one big pie is enough for the whole family.